Rochdale teen who was bullied and self harmed became a beauty queen to empower girls and young women.
Local teenager from Rochdale, Gwen Raby, was bullied since she was 12 years old. She became so unhappy due to the bullying, that she started to self harm. But in order to help others, she decided to share her story of recovery and becoming a beauty queen.
Gwen who is 5ft 10in tall. She was called names like ‘lanky’ and ‘wonky eye’ by her classmates. After being the victim of bullying she decided to become a beauty queen to inspire young girls and young women in the same situation.
Gwen told a local newspaper “When I was younger I had to leave school because my body image was completely shattered by other students. They started picking on me for my height, calling me ‘lanky’ all the time. Being tall made me stand out and drew attention to my eye so they bullied me for that too. Just being a little bit different became something to be attacked for. I remember one day so clearly being sat on a wall and a big group of girls all shouting things at me. I needed help but there was nobody for me to turn to. I felt so insecure I grew a big fringe so I could always hide my face so other people didn’t have to look at it. I was very depressed and I started to cut myself. I tried to hide my wounds by wearing long sleeved tops but my mum noticed and I had to be put in hospital and leave school.”
After changing schools Gwen took up dancing and used it as a way of expressing herself. Then she saw an advertisement for a beauty pageant that promotes and helps self confidence. Since then Gwen has taken part in a number of pageants and gained so much self-esteem.
On October 10th, World Mental Health Day, Gwen launched a brand new campaign called Big Up Sista which focuses on helping girls and young women to love and accept themselves. Gwen is now arranging to do talks at schools and she is also arranging workshops which focus on helping girls share what they like about themselves.
Last week Gwen took a big step and she returned to the school she left due to the bullying. She talked to all the female students about her story. Gwen said that she wants to be strong role model for all the other girls who are going through problems like she did.
Gwen went on to say “I can’t stand the thought of other girls going through what I did so I launched the campaign to try to put a stop to it. I’ve got talks lined up at schools but the first one I went back to was the school I had to leave. I do a workshop with the girls where I get them to write down five things they like about themselves and then read them out. It was so heartbreaking to see that nearly all the girls struggled to even write the list. Young women need to learn to like themselves. They need to be able to say ‘I am beautiful’ and ‘I can do this’ or even ‘I am weird and I like it’. If they can celebrate their own differences then they won’t attack other people for theirs. And I want those who are struggling to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. They can be confident and things will get better like they did for me.”